March 16, 2011

"Ten Things You Need to Know About the Infowar"

Or, Are We in Post-Reality Yet?

The full essay with links to sources and more is here. (To comment on it, please return to this post and click here or on "comments," below.)

Here's the précis:

1. A balance of power requires a balance of information. In the US and elsewhere, we've developed a serious imbalance, in that governments and big businesses know everything about us, and we know less and less about them.

2. What's new about Wikileaks is that it may be the first instance of an institutional system that confers the power that comes from the revelation of secrets on the people rather than their rulers. The potential to help restore the balance of knowledge and thus the balance of power between the oligarchs and the rest of us constitutes what I've called as the most important effect of Wikileaks' revelations.

3. The infowar strategy of exposing the secrets of corrupt regimes (which I call, the "Exposure Strategy"), as described by Julian Assange, is three-pronged:
(a) It gives us the opportunity to redress previously hidden injustices;
It tends to deter injustices in the first place by heightening the likelihood and
thus the fear of exposure;
It tends to weaken corrupt organizations by prompting them to tighten security, thus lowering their
own computational I.Q.

4. The counter to the Exposure Strategy is "public relations," which uses our most primitive emotions and drives in order to induce us to disregard truth and to act against our own best interests, at least up to an as-yet-not-fully-understood point. When p.r. is deployed successfully, the truth simply no longer matters; it's as if we've been immunized against it. And note that, to the extent "public relations" is effective, it neutralizes all three prongs of the Exposure Strategy; i.e.,
(a) Injustices exposed need not be investigated, prosecuted, or corrected;
(b) Future injustices are therefore not particularly deterred;
(c) Corrupt organizations need not tighten their security, and thus can avoid having to lower their own
computational I.Q.

5. How far p.r. prevails over the Exposure Strategy will provide an important indication of the extent to which we now live in Post-Reality.

6. Computers are the new guns; but an infowar is not just a war using information as ammunition; it is a struggle between old and new power structures over who will control access to information.

7. The infowar is in essence a class war over knowledge as a form of wealth. As a corollary, information is a commodity for which there are markets that are (absent effective regulation) manipulable.

8. Greater transparency maximizes efficiency and profits for a group as a whole, but individuals within the group profit most when they're not transparent while others in the group are.

9. So long as a system as a whole remains mostly transparent, it's a more-than-zero-sum game; but where transparency has sufficiently deteriorated, the competition among "players" devolves into a race to see who can loot the most the fastest, even if valuable resources are wasted in the process.

10. By virtue of the internet, humanity is (again) on the verge of a potential transition from a system in which powerful elites exploit the governed in a less-than-zero sum game, to a more transparent, collaborative, more-than-zero-sum game system. If the system as a whole remains mostly transparent, the growth in mankind's collective intelligence and well-being may be about to explode. But this beneficial effect could be retarded, perhaps even partially prevented, if we fail to protect the internet and facilities like Wikileaks from those who seek to control them.

More here.


  1. Wikileaks has called itself the "First Intelligence Agency of the People – Working for YOU. Not against". It may indeed be the first institutional system conferring the power that comes from revelation on the people rather than on their rulers.

    This entire statement is an inversion of the truth... There is no doubt Wikileaks is aligned with the greater goals of the western empire - their carefully contrived cables are merely top shelf propaganda... small, insignificant truths wrapped in lies and misleading notions. Take for example the "cable" which incriminated Pakistan of war crimes and helped set the stage for hightened hostility against the nation - notice how quickly mainstream publications swooped on this particular "cable".

    Why has Mr. Assange been so prevalent in mainstream media? Clearly the state has no objection to anyone entering the Wikileaks URL into their browser or reading the "leaked" information.

    The smear campaign against Assange was unquestionably staged, employing reverse pyschology during the initiation phase of an important state-owned figurehead. The exact same technique was used with Obama's rise to fame - placing a false patriot on the pedestal.

    One day I truly hope the people understand the disgraceful public disservice we call Wikileaks.

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  3. With all respect, the evidence does not support your interpretation. WL published 251,287 cables which embarrassed the ruling classes in a multitude of nations (see map at for an indication).

    In retaliation, WL has been financially throttled, its flow of publications suspended, and Assange hobbled, able to do little for the last year other than try to defend himself and now finding no outlet for his proposed talk show other than Russian TV.

    In my opinion, WL is not aligned with any empire, unless you define "empire" to include the 99% who are now awakening to their own power. The current infowar is not a war against any particular nation. It's a struggle between old and new power structures over who will control access to information.